Virginia is for Racing Lovers, hot temps on and off the track
Saturday’s Virginia is for Lovers Grand Prix — a two-hour timed race at the 3.27 mile, 17 turn Virginia International Raceway — was full of ups and downs for the two LA Honda World Racing entries.
Both the No. 73 and the No. 37 were involved in incidents that impacted their race.
Will Tally and Matt Pombo in the No. 73 Honda Civic FL5 TCR overcame trouble early in the race and fought back to the front end of the field by the end of the two-hour event.
Early on, Tally was caught up in an incident where he was hit from behind and spun. He was able to continue, but lost ground and fell back to twelfth.
“This was a bittersweet race for me,” Tally said. “I drove my best qualifying and race stint of the season — thank you to my co-driver coaches for getting me faster. I’m heartbroken for our team. Between contact caused by others and mechanical failures, we came away empty handed again.”
Pombo, in the anchor position for the No. 73, put in a great drive and was able to capitalize on the troubles of other TCR cars. When Pombo started his stint, he was in twelfth, and he drove up to fourth before ultimately finishing seventh.
“I must commend the crew and everyone today for handling the heat and the challenging conditions,” Pombo said. “Happy to bring the car home in one piece and on to Indy in a few weeks. Hopefully, the rules will have us in a more competitive spot for that race.”
Unfortunately, the incident of the No. 37 Honda Civic FL5 TCR ended the day early for Mike LaMarra and Ryan Eversley.
LaMarra in the No. 37 went off at turn 12 and hit the tire barrier. He tried to keep going but ultimately stopped off course, and the car had to be recovered by the safety team.
“It was a tough weekend,” LaMarra said. “Our team worked really hard to put us in a great position. I’m upset that we couldn’t reward their effort with a better result. We overcame several challenges thrown our way, but in the end, a small mistake on track ended our day.”
“Our No. 37 car had the fastest practice lap yesterday, but it just wasn’t our day today,” Eversley said. “VIR is one of the hardest tracks on the schedule and that’s when the weather is perfect. Add in 100° temps and you’re bound to find some weaknesses. Unfortunately, our engine was running hot through free practice two and into qualifying and despite the guys working really hard to get the car as cool as possible, those engine temps started spiking again in the race. We also had a radio issue and couldn’t properly communicate with Mike, and I think all of those things combined to cause Mike to have a very rare off-track excursion that ended our race. Really frustrating to know we’ve got some podium pace but not be able to really do anything with it. We’ll regroup and hopefully go to Indy with another shot at a podium.
During Friday evening’s qualifying, Tally put the No. 73 in seventh with a time of 1:57.73 (at 100.010 mph). LaMarra qualified just ahead in sixth in the No. 37 with a time of 1:56.590 (at 100.968 mph).
In the first practice session Friday morning, the No. 37 of Ryan Eversley and Mike LaMarra was the quickest TCR in the field, with Eversley setting a lap time of 1:55.937 (at 101.537 mph). The No. 73 of Mat Pombo and Will Tally was ninth-fastest in the session with a time of 1:57.124 (at 100.508 mph) set by Pombo.
In second practice, which took place at 2:25 ET, the No. 73 Honda Civic FL5 TCR was second-quickest, with Pombo covering the 3.27 mile 17 turn course in a time of 1:56.398 (at 101.135 mph), less than four tenths behind the quickest car.
The No. 37 Honda Civic FL5 TCR finished the second practice seventh-quickest, with Eversley completing a lap in 1:56.761 (at 100.821 mph), less than a second behind the fastest.
The next race in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge takes place Sept. 15-17 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The season finale is Oct. 11-14 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Part of the Honda Performance Development program, L.A. Honda World Racing is the official race team of L.A. Honda World, a factory-authorized Honda dealership in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey, CA.
About L.A. Honda World Racing
L.A. Honda World Racing is an in-house professional racing team based in Southern California and participates in the SRO / TC America and IMSA racing series exclusively racing touring cars built by Honda Performance Development. They are also a factory authorized Honda dealer for American Honda Motor Co. www.lahondaworldracing.com
About Honda Performance Development
Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD), has a rich heritage creating, manufacturing, and supporting Honda Racing and Acura Motorsports customers since 1993. From pinnacle racing in INDYCAR and IMSA Sports Cars to commercial racing programs, HPD powers the dreams of professional and amateur racers from age 4 to 40+. HPD is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and leads all of Honda and Acura's high-performance racing programs in North America. HPD specializes in the design and development of powertrain, chassis, electronics, and performance parts, as well as technical and race support. HPD offers parts and race support to Honda and Acura amateur and professional motorsports racers and is continually expanding its palette of racing programs that make Honda racing products available to all racing styles, from karting and Quarter Midgets to the highest levels of pro racing. For more information, visit www.hpd.honda.com